As we prepare to bid farewell to 2014 and usher in the New Year many of us will resolve to lead healthier lifestyles. Quit smoking, drink less, lose weight, exercise more… Whatever you want to do, it’s important to be realistic and set achievable goals.
We asked our Public Health team for their advice.
Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing Cllr John Cotton.
But we can all play our part in improving the health of our city and sometimes making a change is literally about putting your best foot forward. My personal resolution for 2015 is to walk more.
It’s underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active.
You can walk alone or join a group. In Birmingham we have lots of walking groups as part of our fantastic Active Parks scheme.
Director of Public Health Dr Adrian Phillips
I’ve got two simple tips for everyone in 2015:
Take the stairs. If you can, use the stairs rather than lifts and escalators. It’s a great way to burn calories, build endurance, and strengthen the legs.
A study in European Heart Journal followed 69 hospital employees who ditched the elevator for the stairs for roughly 90 days. The employees reaped the following benefits:
- Body fat dropped 1.7%
- Waist size dropped 1.8%
- Blood pressure fell 2.3%
- Cholesterol fell 3.9%
- Lung capacity went up 8.6%
Smile at passers by and say hello.
This is a simple and effective way to enrich our lives and improve our wellbeing. The New Economics Foundation puts it perfectly in the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
“Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
Healthy eating expert Eleanor McGee
Often people bite off more than they can chew when it comes to New year’s resolutions. If you’re not a runner, don’t promise to run a marathon in 2015, simply take up running and build up slowly.
Similarly with healthy eating, make a manageable change to your diet. Add one more portion of fruit or vegetables to your daily diet and stick to it. Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy. That’s why it’s so important that we get enough of them.
The 5 A DAY message highlights the health benefits of getting five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s five portions of fruit and veg in total, not five portions of each.
5 A DAY is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Substance misuse expert Max Vaughan
After the excesses of the festive season, why not try Dry January banish the booze this January and make a healthy start to the new year.
By taking on the Dry January challenge youâ€™re sure to lose a few pounds while saving a few quid. And with no hangovers youâ€™ll find time and energy you never knew you had, oh and your skin will look nicer too.
Lead Public Health Nurse, Elaine George
As we get older, we have a higher risk of developing dangerous conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.
So if you’re aged between 40-74, speak to your GP about an NHS Health Check. This FREE midlife MOT checks that some of your body’s most important systems are all running smoothly. Your NHS Health Check can spot the early signs of any problems and help prevent these happening to you, which means you’ll be more likely to enjoy life for longer.
Birmingham has a very good track record when it comes to delivering NHS Health Checks but we can always improve. So if you’re aged 40-74 talk to your GP about an MOT in 2015.
Happy (Healthy) New Year
There are lots of healthy choices you can make in 2015 and in many cases we’re here to help. Whatever you decide to do – have a healthy, happy and fulfilling new year.